Lessons from Books: The Magic Of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz tackles many fundamental qualities needed to excel in life. Qualities such as belief systems, positive thinking, discipline, taking action, overcoming fear, making relationships, setting goals, creating value systems, and much more are not only defined in a way to show their significance, but Dr. Schwartz also gives practical guidelines and practices to follow which will embolden these qualities in the reader.

The following are some of the main takeaways from the book.

Lessons:

The Importance of Belief

Belief works this way. Belief, the “I’m positive-I-can” attitude, generates the power, skill, and energy needed to do. When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.

Belief is the initial step to taking action and is often the step many people lack because they cannot see themselves achieving their goal. If you lack the belief then you will never try to figure out how you can accomplish your goal. However, once you believe you can accomplish ‘X’, then you can ask:

How will you make this belief come true?

When you answer this question, you may realize that you are lacking in certain skill sets, or understandings, or developments, or relationships that you will need in order to turn your belief into reality. This is a good thing. It means there is a path towards achieving your goal. So, what was once just hopeful wishing can become a reality through your actions.

But if you lacked the belief in the first place, then you would not have been able to formulate a plan of action. You would not have objectively seen what is required to get to your goal.

Belief releases creative powers. Disbelief puts the brakes on.

Similar to the chain reaction that occurs when you believe, disbelieving also leads you to a path. But unlike the path believing creates, disbelieving shows you a path away from what you hope to achieve by giving you excuses and reasons not to work for your potential future.

By disbelieving, you narrow your worldview, and with it, you narrow your potential. The easiest thing in the world is to find reasons not to work and sacrifice your present comfort.

Thinking does make it so. The fellow who thinks he is inferior, regardless of what his real qualifications may be, is inferior. For thinking regulates actions. If a man feels inferior, he acts that way, and no veneer of cover-up or bluff will hide for long this basic feeling. The person who feels he isn’t important, isn’t. On the other side, a fellow who really things he is equal to the task, is.

How To Overcome Fear

The old “it’s-only-in-your-mind treatment” presumes fear doesn’t really exist. But it does. Fear is real. Fear is success enemy No. 1. Fear stops people from capitalizing on opportunity; fear wears down physical vitality; fear actually makes people sick, causes organic difficulties, shortens life; fear closes your mouth when you want to speak.

You can find reasons to avoid your fears. One way to do that is by thinking it’s all in your head. This type of thinking avoids fear because you never confront it. What you need to do is take what causes you fear and give it life. Take it from the abstract and write it down on a piece of paper. This way you know exactly what is causing you to fear and once you know that you can make an actionable plan to overcome it. 

An exercise such as Fear Setting can help you practice how to confront and overcome fear.

Two interconnected ways to overcome fear are confidence and action. Often your fears arise from a feeling of inadequacy. Thinking that you aren’t up to the task or don’t have the ability to achieve your goal. This goes hand in hand with action because typically, the lack of action creates self-confidence issues which results in second guessing your capabilities and giving power to your fears.

All confidence is acquired, developed.

Action is vital to living a good life. Through action, you can build confidence because as you achieve things, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, the achievement creates positive momentum which can lead you to overcome bigger fears. It can work the other way around too. You can almost delude yourself into believing that you can overcome fear and then create a plan that does so. When you act, then what seems like this big scary monster comes undone and you can pick it apart slowly. 

Action cures fear.

Ask yourself: “What kind of action can I take to conquer my fears?”

By asking this question, you can then isolate your fear and make it easier to build a plan around it. 

Growth Through Self Reflection

Practice adding value to yourself. Conduct a daily interview with yourself. Ask, “What can I do to make myself more valuable today?” Visualize yourself not as you are but as you can be. Then specific ways for attaining your potential value all suggest themselves.

This is where keeping a personal journal can be helpful. You can use the journal as a daily interview, almost as if it is the journal pages ask you questions such as:

How can you improve from yesterday? What did you do yesterday (or the past week/month) that you disliked? What is one habit you want to change? What is one habit you want to implement? How can you make progress in your work? How can you improve your relationships? What is one dietary change you want to make? What are your workout goals? What can I do to make myself more deserving of the next opportunity? And so on.

In reality, answering any one of these questions one time won’t result in a grand change. But the process is important. Repeatedly thinking about these questions and answering them. Most of the time you require hundreds of repeatable actions before you see change. So, consistently answering self-reflective questions will slowly change your trajectory towards the potential individual you wish to be. 

Journals can also help with self-criticism. However, there is a proper method to being self critical. You don’t want to be overly negative and belittling towards yourself. That will damage your confidence and momentum, but at the same time you want to hold yourself accountable.

Don’t, of course, try to find your faults so you can say to yourself, “here’s another reason I’m a loser.” Instead view your mistakes as “Here’s another way to make me a bigger winner.

Practice positivity even when you are dissecting your mistakes and actions. After all, any improvement you make will move you towards a better version of yourself so the outcome is positive, hence, the view should be positive as well. 

Comparison can also be a good way to reflect and be critical. Once again, you don’t want to compare yourself to others in a way that damages your psyche. But if you pick four or five individuals who are successful in parts of life where you’d like to be successful as well, and this doesn’t have to be work, it can be health, relationships, hobbies, you can then compare your attitude, beliefs, habits, actions, mindsets to these individuals and see how you differ and what changes you can bring about that will align you more towards these individuals. 

Take Care of Your Mental Diet

The body is what the body is fed. By the same token, the mind is what the mind is fed. Mind food, of course, doesn’t come in packages and you can’t buy it at the store. Mind food is your environment—all the countless things which influence your consciousness and subconscious thought. The kind of mind food we consume determines our habits, attitudes, personality. Each of us inherited a certain capacity to develop. But how much of that capacity we have developed and the way we have developed that capacity depends on the kind of mind food you feed it.

In order to be physically healthy, you need a well-balanced diet. Keep your fats, carbs, and sugar in check. Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Fasting has important benefits to the body and as do well-timed cheat meals.

The same principles apply to your mental diet. Make sure you’re not consuming too much junk, such as mindless forms of entertainment or web browsing. Have a well-balanced mental diet which can include fiction and non-fiction books, documentaries, varied forms of news intake, and even taking classes on subjects you find interesting. Similar to how you would lower your sugar intake to a specific level, you can lower your social media consumption to perhaps two ten-minute breaks a day. View fasting breaks as disconnecting from the internet or television. But don’t forget to give yourself a break and cheat by watching your favorites shows or reality television in a structured manner. 

Effort Before The Reward

You don’t get a raise on the promise of better performance; you get a raise only by demonstrating better performance. You can’t harvest money unless you plant the seeds that grow money. And the seed of money is service. Put service first and more takes care of itself.

Your work comes with a degree of faith. Faith that someday your efforts will produce the fruits that you desire. But you cannot expect the fruits of your labour before you put in the effort. In today’s climate, where it seems as if people can become rich and successful overnight, especially because of social media, you can get this false sense of obligation. As if you are obligated to the reward right away. That if you put in a few hours, you should see an uptick in your bank account or likes and follows. But that mindset is not correct because it puts the rewards before the effort. Work for the sake of the work.

Reminder: The work is the dream.

Always give people more than they expect to get.

Be About The Action

Being active is a mindset that can be built, and for there, the habit of acting comes. When you create a resolution to be active, your mind gets ignited to think of ways to accomplish goals and to take action. 

A lot of times your inactivity stems from fear. You are afraid to fail, get embarrassed, be disappointed so you choose the option that will avoid that potential outcome, which is inactivity. However, passivity only avoids short-term suffering but compounds long term suffering as you come to live with regret and think about the “what ifs” all your life. And evidently, the thing that can cure your fear is the very thing you are avoiding: Action.

Use action to cure fear and gain confidence. Here’s something to remember. Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction in all forms feeds fear. To fight fear, act. to increase fear—wait, put off, postpone.

Verbalizing and/or writing the worst-case outcome can help you make better decisions. Write what’s the worse thing that can happen if you choose to act, and if you do not act. Often when you write it down and accept the worst case, you realize it was more frightening in your mind. And that in reality, you can handle that potential outcome or at the very least you can prepare yourself to dull the impact of it.

Another way to make sure that you are focusing on acting is by creating routines and habits that lead towards action. You can rely too much on your mood or feelings. Everyone has said at least once in their life “I don’t feel like it,” or “when I’m in the right mood I’ll do it”. Having to rely on something that can change at the whim of the moment isn’t exactly the smartest thing. Instead, have to remind yourself that you’re ready to go right now, that you can work now. 

Action must precede action. That’s is a law of nature.

Routines that lead you towards your primary task are actions that will create actions. Think of them as warm-ups or stretches before your principal work. Let’s say you want to be more active in the morning, then a simple action that can lead to more productivity is having your alarm clock away from your bed so that you have to physically get up to turn it off. This makes it easier to start your day because you are already up, rather than lying around in bed for twenty-thirty minutes after your alarm has gone off and now you have to rush through the morning. So the routine changes from hitting the snooze button to throwing your blanket off and leaving your bed right away.

Importance of Having Goals

Goals are as essential to success as air is to life. No one ever stumbles into success without a goal. No one ever lives without air. Get a clear fix on where you want to go.

View yourself as a business. Every corporation has things like a ten-year plan. What is yours? Not just for future goals but the future you. What characteristics, habits, routines do you see your future self having?

The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progresses made one step at a time. A house is built a brick at a time. Football games are won a play at a time. A department store grows bigger one new customer at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments.

This is why it’s important for you to figure out your personal, career, and health goals. Once you have the end goal or at least a future mark, you can then work on the little steps you need to take in order to get there. 

Do this: Start marching toward your ultimate goal by making the next task you perform, regardless of how unimportant it may seem, a step in the right direction. Commit this question to memory and use it to evaluate everything you do. “Will this help take me where I want to go? If the answer is no, back off; if yes, press ahead.

Great Quotes:

You must feel important to succeed.

Practice uplifting self-praise. Don’t practice belting self-punishment.

The success combination is do what you do better (improve the quality of your output) and do more of what you do (increase the quantity of your output).

But you can wager every cent you have the bricklayer who visualized himself as building a great cathedral did not remain a bricklayer.

Success depends on the support of other people.

We can try and try, and try and try and try again, and still fail unless we combine persistence with experimentation.

The Importance Of Belief

In the book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz goes over several practical actions and behaviors that can help a person achieve their goals. One such action is the importance of belief and a positive mind.

The power belief is a very cliche thing to say because it’s often misused or perhaps overused. The difference is that most people simply daydream and hope that someday their dreams come true. However, with true belief, it’s a more concrete approach to life. You don’t believe that someday it’ll happen but rather in the next 2 months or 6 months or 2 years or 10 years you’ll achieve your goals. And thus, with deadlines comes action. You have to act in order for the belief to be fulfilled. But at the very beginning, the initial action, the foundational step is belief.

Belief works this way. Belief, the “I’m-positive-I-can” attitude, generates the power, skill and energy needed to do. When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.

When you believe that you can be successful then you see that end goal and with it, you see the certain attributes and skills which are required. If you wish to run your own business but lack the ability to lead, then that’s a clear attribute that you need to work on. You may need to take classes, read books and be more conscious of your behaviors and the words you use. You can then objectively see the person you are presently and view the tools that you are missing, the skills that you need to acquire and create a plausible plan that can slowly get you towards your goals.

Believing they will succeed–and that it’s not impossible–these folks study and observe the behavior of senior executives. They learn how successful people approach problems and make decisions. They observe the attitudes of successful people.

The how-to-do-it always comes to the person who believes he can do it.

But if the belief isn’t there, then the goal isn’t there and without that, you can’t see the missing parts of yourself.

Belief is what starts the chain reaction of growth. It’s like visualization. If you don’t visualize where you are going, where you want to end up and what you want to be, then you’re blindly walking around. Similarly, if you don’t believe that you are capable of achieving your goals, then you’re simply shortchanging yourself. Limiting your own potential.

Belief in great results is the driving force, the power behind all great books, plays, scientific discoveries.

On the other hand, disbelief is an obstacle that can obstruct your momentum before it can even build.

Disbelief is negative power. When the mind disbelieves or doubts, the mind attracts “reasons” to support the disbelief. Doubt, disbelief, the subconscious will to fail, the not really wanting to succeed, is responsible for most failures.

It is always easier to come up with a list of things that can potentially go wrong. Reasons why you should stay safe and comfortable rather than take a risk. Failure and humiliation are real and many believers have experienced them. But the point, at least to me, isn’t about a 100% success rate. Rather it’s to act with a belief that you can get from A to Z and even if you fail in that belief and perhaps land somewhere around M, you can then plan once more and take action which allows you to inch your way towards your goals.

But someone with disbelief sees that potential failure as crippling and stays safe which also limits the experience and potentialities of life.

Look at it this way. Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. Study the fellow who is shuffling down there in mediocrity. He believes he is worth little, so he receives little. He believes he can’t do big things, and he doesn’t. He believes he is unimportant, so everything he does has an unimportant mark. As time goes by, lack of belief in himself shows through in the way the fellow talks, walks, acts. Unless he readjusts his thermostat forward, he shrinks, grows smaller and smaller in his own estimation. And, since others see in us what we see in ourselves, he grows smaller in the estimation of the people around him.

The three ways to develop the power of belief are:

  1. Think success, don’t think failure. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions which bring you closer to your goal. Negative thoughts lead to negative actions which make the goal seem impossible.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. It’s only by believing that you are capable of doing great things that you can achieve them.
  3. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. It’s extremely rare that people stumble into great success. Rather, it’s a calculated and measured approach that builds one towards that success.

Once more, it’s hard to separate cliche from a statement like ‘the power of belief’. There are aspects of life that are unknown or out of your control. So, there is always a degree of uncertainty that accompanies each action. Belief is there in order to overcome this uncertainty and allow you to act. In some ways, it’s similar to faith but faith which is backed by action because you believe that your goals are real and that you have the capability to attain them. Without belief, you stall out before you even get started in the race.

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right. (Henry Ford)


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Short Story: Everything Work’s Itself Out

Importance of Long Term Goal Setting

The important thing is not where you were or where you are but where you want to get.

Without knowledge of your destination, you are bound to waste your time, driving aimlessly. Even if you know where you wish to go but don’t plan on how you’ll get there then you’re bound to get lost.

In life, there is a default position where people aimlessly wander, simply hoping that someday their dreams come true. But no one ever stumbles upon success. No one accidentally achieves their dreams.

Rather, the achievement of one’s dreams requires concentrated and focused effort. As David J. Schwartz puts it in his book The Magic of Thinking Big:

A goal is an objective, a purpose. A goal is more than a dream; it’s a dream being acted upon. A goal is more than a hazy “Oh, I wish I could.” A goal is a clear “This is what I’m working toward.”

The importance of goal setting is common knowledge. So common that we often underestimate its importance of it and overlook the benefits we can derive from it. Many times we set big goals that we hope to achieve someday without giving thought to the smaller steps that will get us to our goal. Or, we may figure out the small things that we need to do but don’t know to what end we are aiming for.

Either way, you’ll have a hard time reaching your goals.

Instead of vague wishes, goal setting should be used not only to accomplish certain actions but also to improve yourself and improve the conditions of your life. To this point, David Schwartz encourages people to create a 10-year plan. This sounds like a daunting task because many of us don’t even know exactly what we want for dinner, how then can we create goals for ourselves for the next 10 years?

First, you have to understand the importance of such action. Schwartz uses the analogy of a forward-looking business, which would be business’ which plan for the future in order to keep growing, as a blueprint for individual growth.

Each of us can learn a precious lesson from the forward-looking business. We can and should plan at least 10 years ahead. You must form an image now of the person you want to be 10 years from now if you are to become that image. This is a critical thought. Just as the business that neglects to plan ahead will be just another business (if it even survives), the individual that fails to set long-range goals will most certainly be just another person lost in life’s shuffle. Without goals, we cannot grow.

In recent times I’ve started to think more about the kind of person I want to be as much as the things I want to accomplish. I look for the characteristic that I wish to have and those characteristics I wish to get rid of such as browsing car ad’s or looking for some new gadget that would be nice to own for the time being. Not that there is anything wrong with material possessions, but those things come and go and only bring me short term satisfaction but there is a nagging voice in my head that keeps me from being satisfied with the person that I am because I know that I am not who I wish to be.

This is where goals like the 10-year plan. Such plans can allow you to aim at an ideal version of you and can help you outline steps to get there. In order to create your own long term plan, you have to focus on two things.

First, visualize your future in terms of three departments: work, home and social. Dividing your life this way keeps you from becoming confused prevents conflicts, helps you look at the whole picture.

Second, demand of yourself clear, precise answers to these questions: what do I want to accomplish with my life? What do I want to be? and What does it take to satisfy me?

A more detailed plan would look somewhat like this:

Work department: 10 years from now:

  1. What income level do I want to attain?
  2. What level of responsibility do I seek?
  3. How much authority do I want to command?
  4. WHat prestige do I expect to gain from my work?

Home Department: 10 years from now:

  1. What kind of standard of living do I want to provide for my family and myself?
  2. What kind of house do I want to live in?
  3. What kind of vacations do I want to take?
  4. What financial support do I want to give my children in their early adult years?

Social department: 10 years from now:

  1. What kinds of friends do I want to have?
  2. What social groups do I want to join?
  3. What community leadership positions would I like to hold?
  4. What worthwhile cause do I want to champion?

I would personally add a self department which would be to work on your own health and habits, including attitudes and behaviors.

All of this planning and goal setting is done because, in order to get somewhere, you must know first where you are going. Once you have an aim then you can take action. Once your long term goals are set then you can break them down into smaller steps which would include the things you need to accomplish this year which would get you closer to your overarching goal and then, what you need to accomplish within the next 6 months, 3 months, month, weeks, and days.

In this manner, you live your life actively with each day being of use. You wake up with a purpose and plan and go to sleep knowing that you did what you were supposed to do and over time you will be able to recognize the progress you have made.

This is ultimately the point of goal setting: To make incremental progress. Such progress brings meaning to one’s life and leads to a more fulfilled life.

Use goals to live longer. No medicine in the world–and your physician will bear this out–is as powerful in bringing about long life as is the desire to do something.